A story I have wanted to write about for a few weeks concerns the legacy of the former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Alison Saunders. She’s now a lawyer at the firm LinkLaters.
A damning view of Saunders’s legacy can be found at this link:
In short, the article summarises that while Saunders had honourable intentions (to increase the percentage of convictions for rapes), her methods for doing so risked creating numerous miscarriages of justice. For example, police officers were sent on training courses where they were taught that a woman who said she had been raped must always be believed and referred to as ‘the victim’.
I think it is crucial to point out that the writer of the aforementioned article was not a bitter old man who had been falsely accused of committing a sex offence, but rather an educated woman. That’s important, because when Saunders first started in the job, it was clearly women sex crime victims she was trying to help: “I think women have had, as witnesses and victims, a raw deal.”
I’m sure that makes male victims of sex crimes feel wonderful about themselves.
Now, I’m not going to criticise Saunders further because the article does that very thoroughly by itself. But I am going to make a point regarding this issue going forward.
It seems to me that over recent decades we have gone from one extreme to the other. A few decades ago, the police had too great a mistrust of alleged victims who reported rapes and sexual assaults. So much so that this put off a lot of women from reporting these types of crimes to the police.
Gradually, the police have learned lessons. They are, in general, now far more sympathetic and sensitive to the trauma that rape victims experience and how difficult it is to report them to strangers. This is, of course, hugely positive.
But with the above article, there appears to be a legitimate danger that police now trust the alleged victims too readily. The frighteningly near miscarriage of justice of Liam Allan (link is below) is an excellent demonstration of how this can happen to any man, no matter how kind or law-abiding that man is.
This issue is just one of many fascinating topics you can study and debate as part of the Gender and Crime module, a 3rd year optional module on the BSc Criminology degree at the University of Leicester.
For now, all we can say is that, sadly, the legacy of Alison Saunders as DPP is that her tenure is likely to be viewed, fairly or unfairly, as a failure.